Give us the Mass! Offer it with Sensible Precautions, but Offer it Publicly!

by Mary Ann Kreitzer



I'll be honest. I'm tired of being told how unprecedented the situation with the coronavirus is. Are we hearing this because people are totally ignorant of history? The 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic infected a quarter of the world's population at the time and killed millions including Jacinta and Francisco Marto, the seers of Fatima.

It was an HiNi virus like the swine flu and there were no antibiotics at the time to handle secondary bacterial infections. A big difference in that pandemic from today's was how hard it hit the little ones and those in the prime of life with the highest death toll among those younger than five, age 20-40, and the elderly over 65. It seems the Lord has cast a net of protection around the least ones, so abandoned in this evil age.

With regard to the 1918 flu, the CDC tells us:

Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic. While the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood. With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly.
Yes, Italy's situation is horrible, but it is NOT unprecedented. The percentage of people who died from the Spanish influenza was much higher than what we're seeing with the coronavirus. What is unprecedented is the number of people on ventilators which weren't invented until the 1950s. The first "breathing machine" was the iron lung, invented in 1928 and used during the polio epidemic. Many more resources today offer more hope for a less devastating outcome.

Medical people offer some reasons that may explain why Italy is being so hard hit:

  • The Lombardy area has a large number of Chinese workers and visitors traveling back and forth, including from the Wuhan province.
  • The population of Italy is the oldest in Europe, and since the virus hits the elderly hardest especially those with underlying health conditions, it is not surprising that they have so many severe cases and so many deaths.
  • A large number of Italians, especially men, are smokers and many have that make any respiratory virus more devastating.

Those are facts! Whether they are the reasons Italy is particularly hard hit is speculation. No one who states those facts should be accused of dismissing or taking lightly the tragic situation in that poor country. Many young people are losing parents and grandparents. To make it all the more surreal and heartbreaking is that so many are dying alone without the consolation of family members around them. Even worse, is that they are dying without the spiritual consolation of their priests and the sacraments.

However, recognizing that death may be imminent is not all bad. Sobering truths have a way of focusing the mind. Knowing that, "Today may be my last day and I better get my soul in order," is a blessing. How many have been taken unaware and unprepared?  We "know not the day or the hour." In a situation like the one we face at present, thinking about the four last things registers high on the prudence scale: Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell. Where will I spend eternity? Am I ready?

It's sad to see so many in the Catholic world attacking anyone who urges that Masses remain public following sensible safety precautions. Increase the number of Masses and limit the number at each. Initiate distancing rules, sanitize the pews (the faithful would gladly help with that I'm sure). If Communion is distributed, have the priest sanitize his hands after each Communicant and wear a mask. If that isn't practical lead a spiritual Communion prayer instead.

Be honest! Are you still going to the pharmacy...the grocery store...the gas station...Lowes and Home Depot? Is a package of toilet paper or a light bulb more necessary than the Mass?

Journalist Phil Lawler recently wrote at Catholic Culture:

Let me confess in advance: if my diocese follows the example set by the Seattle archdiocese, and suspends the public celebration of Mass, I’ll be looking for a priest who leaves the door unlocked when he celebrates a “private” Mass.

It’s not essential that I receive Communion. If public-health concerns make that impossible, so be it. But I need to participate regularly in the holy Sacrifice; without it, life makes no sense. So if the Mass goes “underground,” so will I....

Yes, of course there is some risk in any public gathering. But I take a risk every time I step into a car. Sensible people take sensible precautions in the face of any danger, and during the length of this epidemic those precautions will rightly be heightened. But there is no way to eliminate all risk. We make our choices; we set our priorities.
Yes, it's all about priorities. Are we really so lacking in faith that we don't trust God to know the correct hour to call us home? Is the coronavirus a worse way to go than cancer, stroke, and heart disease? I can't imagine anyone deliberately seeking infection, but since all estimates show that MOST OF US will contract the virus regardless of what we do, should the Church deep six the greatest consolation for the world? Is the body really more important than the soul?

I don't think so, but many whom I thought were serious Catholics including some bishops are acting that way.

That's how I see things and I'm certainly one who is at heightened risk, but I would rather take the risk than be denied the Mass. You can call me selfish (as some have) or dismissive of the deaths (I'm not!), but I will continue to call for restoration of the Mass with prudent precautions. Meanwhile, very few bishops and priests imitate the holy example of Bishop Joseph Strickland who is carrying Jesus out into the highways and biways of Tyler, Texas to bless his spiritual family.

The sun is shining and the temps are mild today. I will take my holy water, my rosary, and my prayer to St. Roch and do a plague walk around the perimeter of our property bringing all my family spiritually into the bounds of Camp Kreitzer, praying for our protection especially our spiritual protection. I have a date on friday with a friend to do the same thing in Woodstock including over to the cemetery, to pray for all the dead there in union with all those dying from the virus.

We in the Church Militant should be using every weapon in the spiritual arsenal to do our part in this war. I'm a lowly transcript in God's army, but I have a powerful general, Our Lady, and I will ask her and my guardian angel to walk with us as we sprinkle holy water and call on the angels and saints to intercede for our protection.

 I invite you to do the same for your family and community. And if you have blessed salt, sprinkle that too!

Viva Cristo Rey!

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